All the Contrasts of Ashton Meadows

The site is one which has significant contrasts. Textures, appearances, smells and sounds all derive from natural and man made elements. It seems fitting that I should attempt to capture some of these conflicts in the work. In order to do so I have begun a list of all the contrasts I can think of. I will update the list as time goes on.

Natural/Man made

Rural/Urban

Quiet/Loud

Maintained/Neglected

Outside/Inside

Uncovered/Covered

Safe/Unsafe

Clean/Unclean

Mine/Shared

Past/Present

Present/Future

Dry/Wet

Alive/Inanimate

Intact/Decaying

Grass/Tarmac

Trees/Lamppost

Stones/Rubble

Soil/Paving

Wildlife/Cars

Brambles/Skate ramp

Clay/Bridges

Manipulating the Void

On reflection, the voids – though aesthetically pleasing – were too small to make either sculptural or functional objects. Having decided to limit myself to using the voids cast from the site, I was forced to ask the question how can I increase the size and scale of these objects?

Something I find exciting about plaster and slip casting is that this industrial process is rooted in the process of making multiple copies. Once I had a series of voids I began by cutting them into slices of various thicknesses. These slices could be stacked or alternated with other void slices to increase height or width. A negative cast of these slices meant I could slip cast the new void to create a new object.

The individual slices were exciting, but together they were not so successful. I then considered taking a trace of a range of slices and extruding them digitally to make new forms. The image below depicts how the slice would appear if extruded directly upwards or rotated around the centre at regular intervals.

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Considering how to extend the width of the voids I began by creating a mould of each void. Each mould, like the slices, was cut up into equal sections and recombined using parts from other moulds. Where the original voids differed in size, the facets of the plaster mould are cast also, combing the organic void and industrial making processes. This is very much like the site itself, having both natural and man made elements. By cutting the moulds I could make them fit together in a multitude of ways, enabling the possibility of gaining height as well as width.

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This process of manipulating and combing multiples is not only an enjoyable one but permits the potential of creating both identical or unique forms. By inserting other sections I can increase the width of the bowl form or stack to gain height. Excitingly, I now have the potential to create a range of different sized tableware from only three original site casts.

Creating the Void

Casting with plaster creates a positive of the negative. I used this process to help me capture moments and actions in Ashton Meadows.

The project felt like it became too bogged down with a multitude of important, yet potentially restrictive details. I have decided to limit my variables to SITE/CLAY/PLASTER.

The site: Ashton Meadows, where the clay comes from. Urban and rural. Use elements of the site as tools.

The clay: Located at Ashton Meadows. The clay can be formed, refined or cast in the studio. The limit of the clays potential will enforce how I can use the clay to make objects.

Plaster: Used currently to cast elements of the site. Plaster blocks can be augmented in a range of ways that will aid the creation of new objects.

This video depicts the clay bed being manipulated by tools found on site. The voids created by the tools are then cast in plaster. The casts will be used later in the formation of new objects.